10.29.2014

You Can't Pray Angst Away

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I get increasingly annoyed when I see people using prayer as an excuse to do nothing.

Recently, a high school friend had a death in the family, reported on Facebook and asking for funeral fund donations.

Naturally, I responded with a donation and something along the lines of, "I am so sorry...please let me know if there is anything I can DO...in addition to donating money."

99% of the other responses were along the lines of, "You are in my thoughts and prayers." Translation: "I know it sucks, but don't expect me to do anything for you besides say I am going to think about it and pray...and chances are I won't even remember to pray. Now @#$& off."

I call bullshit on that. I know some people may say I am being too harsh. The thinking praying folks might very well be donating money or helping the family out.

But prayer and thought are useless, and saying you are going to do it means it is the primary way you are going to "help out." And if it is the only contribution you are going to make, you are useless to the grieving family. If you really care, ask what you can DO to help. Forget prayer. Prayer does not do shit and that's been proven by science.

10.27.2014

Sunday Assembly of Madison Atheists, Agnostics, and Skeptics

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Yesterday (Sunday October 26), my friend Sherry and I went to the Madison Sunday Assembly, a church like gathering of local atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and similarly minded folks. It was like church without God or religion.

They had music and presentations (about astronomy). They had greet thy neighbor and called for donations to help fund the next gathering. There were coffee and snacks afterwards.

It was at a Unitarian church, probably the only kind of church open minded enough to allow such a group to meet there. It was also at a very respectable 3 PM. Although this was probably by necessity so as not to compete with the morning assembly of the Unitarians, it was a good time of day for such a thing.

I spoke with a few people afterwards about contributing music or giving a short talk at a future event. Might be fun. My only issue is my availability. It meets the fourth Sunday of every month (also cool). I will be in Australia when the next one happens and the December one will be too close to Christmas for me to predict my whereabouts right now.

I am curious to know what holiday music they will do. I would guess it would be more secular selections like FROSTY THE SNOWMAN, RUDOLPH THE RNR, and JINGLE BELLS. But maybe someone will cleverly re-write the lyrics to a more religious tune to be more irreverent and fun.

Could that person be me?

9.28.2014

Who Killed God?

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It's kind of ironic...nay, very ironic...that empirical science originated as an honest attempt by devout Christian thinkers to understand God's plan for the universe.

The first scientists were not atheists...they were quite religious. They believed wholeheartedly that God's plan for the universe was written in nature, and they set out to explore it vigorously.

Much of the foundation of modern science was built in the 17th century by empiricists like Isaac Newton (gravity and calculus) and Johannes Kepler (early empiricism, movement of planets). They developed the scientific method of hypothesis testing and observation (trial and error).

Eventually, though, science became so good at exploring nature that it revealed there was no "man behind the curtain" working the controls. The very science that began as a search for God's "clockwork" that controlled nature and the cosmos eventually killed God entirely.

Today, religious people hate science because they think science killed their God and made moot their divine "book." Most don't realize that science began as a religious movement to uncover God's plan. Perhaps they might argue that God did not want his plan uncovered and so he has "deceived" scientists and led them astray. This is ludicrous for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the obvious stability of natural laws whenever they are examined and the pesky fact that all life is based on DNA and genetic inheritance that proves evolution. If God wanted to hide that fact, he would have made these discoveries "invisible" to science. He did not.

In any case, God is not a deceiver. Deception is left to the Devil. So the only conclusion a Christian can logically come to is that science is the Devil's work. If that is so, they should reject all science. This includes mathematics (don't balance your checkbook!) and technology (don't use a smart phone!) and transportation (no trips for you!). Indeed, Christians should probably not even want to live any longer, since life is given by scientifically verifiable biological processes. However, I guess one can bury his or her head in the sand and just imagine that we are all...puppets. Yeah, hand puppets.

But if there is free will...who controls the puppets? And aren't scientists also just free willed puppets?

Messy.

"The Clockwork Universe," by Ed Dolnick tells the tale of Isaac Newton and the Royal Society's bold scientific experiments (like transfusing blood from sheep to humans and putting animals into vaccuum chambers) quite wonderfully.

Check it out.